The sixth edition of the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba will take place from 24 to 25 May 2021 at the IDC Auditorium in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The Indaba, organised by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA), will bring together businesses, labour, civil society and the Government on a single platform to find solutions to challenges plaguing the manufacturing sector in South Africa.

Under the theme “Surviving Tough Times and Growing the Economy”, the Indaba takes place at a time when South Africa’s manufacturing industry, and the Metals and Engineering subsector in particular, is struggling to survive following years of rising energy costs, unreliable power supply, transport challenges, increased competition due to cheap imports and reduced demand for its products. The sector now contributes only 12% to GDP, significantly down from the estimated 25% it used to contribute in 1990s. With South Africa’s economy struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more urgent than ever for all stakeholders to find solutions to rescue the sector so that it, in turn, can help drive economic recovery. 

SEIFSA CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said as with previous Indabas before it, this edition will shine the spotlight on matters affecting manufacturing in the country. “It has long been recognised that our economic growth depends on the existence of a thriving manufacturing sector. However, over the years, we have seen the sector shed rather than create much-needed jobs. It is now up to us, as stakeholders from both the public and private sector, to collectively find ways to arrest its decline,” he said. 

Topics that will be discussed at the Indaba include South Africa’s readiness to embrace the fourth industrial revolution in manufacturing; the formation of a scrap metal exchange to benefit local manufacturers; the African Continental Free Trade Area and the opportunities it brings for South African businesses; an update on the Steel Master Plan and striking a balance between growth and environmental sustainability.Confirmed speakers include Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, Transnet CEO Portia Derby, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, energy expert Ted Blom, leader of the Movement for One South Africa Mmusi Maimane, and Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Wamkele Mene.